NEW YORK: A doctor who recently returned to New York after treating Ebola patients in Guinea tested positive on Thursday (Oct 23) for the deadly virus, the first confirmed case in the city, officials said.
The 33-year-old – identified by US media as Dr Craig Spencer – has been placed in isolation, in what is the fourth case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States. The other three cases have all been in Texas.
The patient arrived back in America’s largest city at JFK airport on October 17, travelling via Europe, after working with Ebola patients in West Africa for the charity Doctors Without Borders.
“Today testing confirmed that a patient here in New York City had tested positive for Ebola,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The patient had monitored himself for any sign of the disease and only displayed his first symptoms on Thursday, a day after taking a subway train to Brooklyn to go bowling. The bowling alley in Williamsburg has since closed as a precaution.
On Tuesday the patient started to feel tired, but only displayed his first symptoms on Thursday morning, when he contacted Doctors Without Borders immediately and was transferred to hospital.
His fiancee and two friends, with whom he has had close contact, are healthy and being quarantined, New York City health commissioner Mary Bassett told reporters. One of those three has been admitted to Bellevue, she added.
A fourth person, the driver of an Uber taxi, had no direct physical contact with the patient and is considered not to be at risk, she said.
New York City health department detectives have been tracing his movements and officials stressed there was no cause for alarm in the dense city of 8.4 million residents. De Blasio said there was “no reason for New Yorkers to be alarmed. Ebola is an extremely hard disease to contract. It is transmitted only through contact with an infected person’s blood or other bodily fluids.”
Officials said the patient completed his work in Guinea on October 12 and left the West African country on October 14 via Europe.
Bassett emphasised that the patient had sought to self-isolate himself since his return from Africa and was taking his temperature twice a day to monitor his health. Health workers treating him were using full protective gear and his apartment in West Harlem has been isolated, Bassett said. “The apartment is locked and not accessible,” she said.
Two nurses in Texas were diagnosed with Ebola after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian citizen who died of the disease. One nurse was on Wednesday declared Ebola free and the other remains in a stable condition.
Bellevue is one of three hospitals in Manhattan and eight in the state of New York equipped to handle patients diagnosed with Ebola.